The extinction efficiency for the interaction of a plane wave with a large nonabsorbing spherical particle is approximately 2.0. When a Gaussian beam of half-width w(sub 0) is incident upon a spherical particle of radius a with w(sub 0)/a less than 1, the extinction efficiency attains unexpectedly high or low values, contrary to intuitive expectations. The reason for this is associated with the so-called compensating term in the scattered field, which cancels the field of the Gaussian beam behind the particle, thereby producing the particle's shadow. I introduce a decomposition of the total exterior field into incoming and outgoing portions that are free of compensating terms. It is then shown that a suitably defined interaction efficiency has the intuitively expected asymptotic values of 2.0 for w(sub 0)/a much greater than 1 and 1.0 for w(sub 0)/a much less than 1.